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Systematic characterization of short intronic splicing-regulatory elements

By Yuan Gao, Kuan-Ting Lin, Yang Yang, Jialin Bai, Li Wang, Junjie Sun, Lei Sheng, Adrian Krainer, Yimin Hua

Posted 18 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.17.444464

Intronic splicing enhancers and silencers (ISEs and ISSs) are two groups of splicing-regulatory elements (SREs) that play critical roles in determining splice-site selection, particularly for alternatively spliced introns or exons. SREs are often short motifs; their mutation or dysregulation of their cognate proteins frequently causes aberrant splicing and results in disease. To date, however, knowledge about SRE sequences and how they regulate splicing remains limited. Here, using an SMN2 minigene, we generated a complete pentamer-sequence library that comprises all possible combinations of 5 nucleotides in intron 7, at a fixed site downstream of the 5' splice site. We systematically analyzed the effects of all 1023 mutant pentamers on exon 7 splicing, in comparison to the wild-type minigene, in HEK293 cells. Our data show that the majority of pentamers significantly affect exon 7 splicing: 584 of them are stimulatory and 230 are inhibitory. To identify actual SREs, we utilized a motif set enrichment analysis (MSEA), from which we identified groups of stimulatory and inhibitory SRE motifs. We experimentally validated several strong SREs in SMN1/2 and MAPT minigene settings. Our results provide a valuable resource for understanding how short RNA sequences regulate splicing. Many novel SREs can be explored further to elucidate their mechanism of action.

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